The Power and Precarious Balancing Acts of Jiro Takamatsu
From the Catalogue:
Jiro Takamatsu’s Shadow No. 1432 from 1997 belongs to the artist’s iconic series of Shadow paintings, begun decades before in 1964. The subjects depicted in these paintings are each simplified to their basic contours, but are rendered with enough precision to signify a certain persona. The figures range in size and, seemingly, in age, suggested by the proportions utilized .The present lot, created just a year prior to his death, depicts what is assumed to be the shadow of a baby against a bright white background in typical trompe l’oeil fashion, rendered in a soft gray acrylic. With arms outstretched in apparent motion, the figure moves across the canvas from left to right, reminding us of the fleeting nature of a shadow.
As a key member of the Mona-Ha movement and founder of the minimalist art collective Hi Red Center in post-war Tokyo, Takamatsu was influential in breaking the traditional boundaries between high art and everyday objects. In 1964, the artist began the Shadow series after he became disillusioned with his studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, attempting to harken back to the simplicity of the origin of painting, as defined by the Greek scholars. The art of painting was thought to have begun with the tracing of a shadow, and thus began Takamatsu’s foray into the depiction of such subjects, the series that has become the artist’s most well-known body of work. In their life-size format, the artist’s shadow canvases become staged figments of the walls on which they hang, reminding viewers of their subjects’ implied presences, which are confined to the boundaries of the canvas. A stellar example from the Shadow series and housed in the same collection since its creation, Shadow No. 1432 serves as a reminder of the transitory nature of passersby and the enigma that surrounds their pasts and futures as they move from one place to the next.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: signed, titled and dated "JIRO TAKAMATSU 1997 No. 1432" on the reverse
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Jiro Takamatsu: Shadow Painting 1997, Tokyo, 1997, no. 189, n.p. (illustrated)
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Jiro Takamatsu was an influential artist, known for breaking down the boundaries between art and life in experimental art forms and guerrilla-style performances, in addition to sculpture, drawing, photography, and painting. Takamatsu was a founding member of the Hi Red Center collective alongside Genpei Akasegawa and Natsuyuki Nakanishi in 1963, and a key figure in the development of the Mono-Ha movement (the “school of things” associated with Lee Ufan). His most celebrated works were the “Shadow Paintings”, begun 1964, in which he painted the isolated shadows of solitary figures and items in delicate grey. These were inspired by images of shadows in 19th-century Japanese woodcuts, as well as the way in which screen doors capture the silhouettes.
Japanese, 1936-1998, Tokyo, Japan